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Monday, March 14, 2016

This Week in Satellite News! (Mar 7 – Mar 14 2016)

Iridium® Push-to-Talk Wins Top Emergency Response Innovation Award at SATELLITE 2016

Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM) today announced that Iridium Push-to-Talk (PTT) was recognized as the "Top Emergency Response Innovation" during the first annual Mobile Satellite Users Association (MSUA) 2016 Mobility Satellite Innovation Awards at SATELLITE 2016. Commercially launched in 2015 and featuring more than a dozen service partners, Iridium PTT is the world's first global, satellite-based push-to-talk service, enabling communication between participants located anywhere on Earth.
The "Top Emergency Response Innovation" award recognizes Iridium PTT for enabling rapid and reliable communication for emergency organizations globally — all with the push of a button. In regions where traditional telecommunications networks are limited or damaged, first responders rely on Iridium PTT to communicate and coordinate relief efforts.

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SpaceX says reusable stage could cut prices 30 percent, plans November Falcon Heavy debut

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland – SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell on March 9 said the company expected to conduct 16 more launches this year, including an inaugural Falcon Heavy rocket in November, and would accelerate its launch rhythm in 2017.
Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX has made lavish forecasts in the past and has come up short. But the company has now launched, twice, the Falcon 9 Upgrade rocket and has not announced any major enhancements for the coming months. A stable product line makes it easier to accelerate launch cadence.
Addressing the Satellite 2016 conference here, organized by Access Intelligence, Shotwell said launching 18 times this year – two launches have already occurred – will not be a stretch, and that the launch rate could increase to 24 or more in 2017.

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NASA commits to 2018 Mars InSight launch

GREENBELT, Md. — A Mars mission that had to cancel plans to launch this month because of an instrument problem will instead fly in 2018, although the additional cost to NASA will not be known for several months.
NASA announced March 9 that the launch of the InSight Mars lander has been rescheduled for May 2018, the next available launch window. A launch then would set up a landing on Mars in November 2018.
InSight was scheduled to launch this month on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. However, in December NASA cancelled the launch after concluding that a seismometer, one of the spacecraft’s key instruments, would not be ready in time after experiencing a series of leaks in its vacuum-sealed components.

Concept art of InSight Lander drilling beneath Mars' surface. Credit: NASA
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Inmarsat’s Global Xpress Wins Mobile Satellite Users Association Award for Government Mobility

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Inmarsat (LSE:ISAT.L), the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, today announced that Global Xpress was awarded “Top Government Mobility Satcom Innovation” in the first annual Mobile Satellite Users Association (MSUA) 2016 Mobility Satellite Innovation Awards presented at Satellite 2016. Global Xpress is the industry’s first end-to-end commercial Ka-band network that spans the world, bringing the benefits of seamless, consistent, high-throughput access to the U.S. government to meet mobile, interoperable communication needs, at an affordable price.

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Liftoff! European Mission to Mars Launches to Seek Signs of Life

Next stop, Mars!
Two robotic spacecraft began a seven-month journey to the Red Planet today (March 14), blasting off together atop a Russian Proton-M rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:31 a.m. EDT (0931 GMT; 3:31 p.m. local Kazakhstan time).
The spacecraft — the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and a lander called Schiaparelli — constitute the first part of the two-phase ExoMars program, a European-Russian project to hunt for signs of life on the Red Planet. The second phase will launch a deep-drilling rover in 2018, if current schedules hold.

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Fearing SpaceX Falcon Heavy delays, Inmarsat reserves ILS Proton

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland – Satellite fleet operator Inmarsat, worried that delays in the introduction of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will compromise a major new growth initiative, has booked an option to launch the Europasat/Hellas-sat 3 satellite aboard an International Launch Services (ILS) Proton rocket in 2017, industry officials said.
Reston, Virginia-based ILS, which markets Russia’s heavy-lift Proton vehicle, on March 7 announced the Inmarsat booking without naming the satellite or providing a launch date.
But industry officials said the reservation was for the Europasat/Hellas-sat 3, under construction by Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Successfully Tests 3-D Printer in Upper Stage Rocket Engine

Aerojet Rocketdyne has completed a series of successful hot-fire tests of its RL10 upper-stage rocket engine. The RL10 development engine, dubbed XR708, included a core main injector built using additive manufacturing technology, often referred to as 3-D printing. The work was done in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force and NASA’s Glenn Research Center as part of the RL10 Additive Manufacturing Study (RAMS) program, which aims to demonstrate the capability of additively manufactured complex parts and qualify them for use in large rocket engines.
The core main injector was fabricated using an additive manufacturing technology known as Selective Laser Melting (SLM). SLM is essentially a micro-welding technique that uses a high-powered laser beam to fuse powdered metal to form detailed components that can perform under the extreme pressures and operating conditions of rocket engines.

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Scientists Talk Astronaut Health on 1-Year Mission

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are back on Earth after spending a record 340 days on the International Space Station. The mission's primary goal was to investigate the physiological and psychological effects of long stints in space, to help pave the way for future crewed missions to Mars.
Last Friday (March 4), a group of NASA scientists fielded questions from the public about Kelly and Kornienko's extended stay on the station, during a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA). The scientists discussed specific questions about the physical and metal toll that spaceflight can have on humans — questions they will have to answer before NASA can safely send humans to Mars or other distant locations. You can read the entire AMA here, or check out some of the highlights below.

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